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Missouri Association of Counties looks for new office after tornado decimated downtown building


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) needs new office space — at least temporarily — after last month’s EF-3 tornado tore through the capital city.

The association’s historic building at 516 East Capitol Avenue was destroyed in the tornado, the roof ripped away, windows shattered, and a white-columned front porch vanished. With the building too structurally unsound to cover with a tarp immediately after the storm, almost everything inside has been lost or destroyed as well.

MAC Executive Director Dick Burke said the insurance company has already declared the building a “total loss.” But still, the association has hired a structural engineer to determine if there’s any hope of rebuilding where the three-story brick office once stood tall.

Recognized as a historic Jefferson City landmark, the office was built just blocks from the Capitol in the 1870s by a prominent physician who worked at the now-defunct state prison down the street. MAC has occupied the building since 1990.

The historical building was built in the 1870s by a prominent Jefferson City doctor (PROVIDED/MISSOURI ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES).

“It’s been a month now. We have temporary space — just a place to meet — and we’re still trying to establish phone service,” Burke told The Missouri Times.

He said Sandy Boeckman has let the association meet a few times a week in her building just a few blocks away — out of the tornado’s path.

“She contacted us right away and was very generous, offering us a spot,” Burke said. “She’s been a godsend. It’s been very helpful to have someplace to go twice a week.”

The association is looking for temporary office space while the board decides if it will — or even can — rebuild on the same lot (PROVIDED/MISSOURI ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES).

Burke said the association needs temporary office space for about a year while the board decides how to proceed. The association is also still in the process of trying to establish its phone system again and is asking members to use email for the time being.

And the timing, Burke said, certainly helped. The legislative session had just ended the week before, and the next board meeting wasn’t scheduled until August. The association considers June part of its “slow time in the year.”

Aside from the building itself, Burke said the association lost 30 years of files, furniture, books, office supplies, and a printing press, among many other things. The building was insured, and Burke maintains a positive outlook about the situation despite the “long road ahead.”

The historical Missouri Association of Counties building used to have a white-columned front porch, but it vanished during the storm (PROVIDED/MISSOURI ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES).

“We’ve got a lot of things going for us; we really do,” he said. “Nobody was hurt, and nobody’s homes were affected, unlike a lot of people here. So we have a lot to be grateful for, and we’ll move forward.”

The tornado also destroyed the Missouri Republican Party’s office in Jefferson City. After, the party said the storm was part of the catalyst for its decision to “refocus” its structure.

One person died as a result of injuries suffered from the May 22 tornado that decimated the capital city just before midnight. And three other people were killed when a tornado ripped through Barton County in southwest Missouri earlier.